By Mike Kern
So how’s Old Man Winter been treating you, especially if you call the Midwest or Northeast home? I’ve been a Philadelphian all my life, and I can tell you flat-out that I’ve never bought into the appeal of that change-of-seasons stuff. You can keep those sub-zero wind chills and the snow shoveling (which, they tell me, can be hazardous to your health at my age. Who am I to argue? Not to mention that I’ve had a head cold for three weeks and counting. In a word, ugh).
I could use a break. Who couldn’t? And there are few places that can do that any better than Myrtle Beach. Especially in the spring, when you haven’t swung a club (at least not outside) in what feels like forever.
Sure, the thawing-out is only a matter of time. But why wait?
I’ve been going to the Grand Strand, as some folks call it, since before I was married. And I just celebrated my 35th anniversary. We go for the golf, the beach, the eating, the shopping and the relaxing. And it’s all very good. For many years I went for the Golf Writers Association of America tournament on our way to Augusta to cover The Masters (I know, tough life. But some of us had to do it). It was one of the times I looked forward to the most.
Now my wife has come to enjoy the trips as much as I do, and the only golf she knows is of the mini variety. And there’s no shortage of that down there either. My two children have also become big fans. One day I hope my new grandson and I can play a round or two.
In short, Myrtle Beach is never a bad idea.
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Because of my wife’s job, we usually go in the summer when school is out. Yet the shoulder seasons might be the best time from a weather standpoint. Not too hot, nor chilly. Many days can be downright perfect for just about anything you might want to do.
I’ve always thought that one of the most attractive lures of Myrtle Beach is its unpretentiousness. It welcomes all comers. If you want to go high end, you can certainly do that. There are plenty of memorable tests for the lower handicapper (The Dunes Club, for starters). And five-star restaurants (New York Prime is a steakhouse that’s as authentic as it gets). But if you’re just trying to maybe break 100, well, there are plenty of worthy places for you to have a good time without getting too serious.
Nothing wrong with choices. And some of the best meals I’ve had cost no more than 10 bucks. The Shack in Cherry Grove comes to mind. I’m always on the lookout for more bargains, and am rarely disappointed. But there’s something to be said for old favorites, because being a creature of habit also has its advantages. Chianti South on Highway 17 in Little River is such a destination. And I never look at the menu. Just give me the stuffed banana peppers: they’re as tasty as anything you’ll find in South Philly’s Italian Market. I can’t hand out a better endorsement.
I’m partial to North Myrtle Beach, but I’ve had wonderful experiences staying at Barefoot Landing and even the South Strand, where my wife’s best friend has a timeshare. Finding the right accommodations is never a problem. And with 75 courses, neither is getting a tee time.
Some of my go-tos (in addition to The Dunes Club) are Tidewater, Oyster Bay, Caledonia, any of the four tracks at Barefoot (particularly the Davis Love III Course), Grande Dunes, TPC Myrtle Beach, Heritage Club, Shaftesbury Glen, Prestwick, The Witch, Pine Lakes and Rivers Edge. But that’s really just skimming the surface.
Yo, you could stay for almost three months and do a different course every day and not play any of them more than once. Think about that. It’s called “The Golf Capital of the World” for a reason. Half the fun is finally getting a shot at one you haven’t been to, and seeing what else you’ve missed out on.
All I’m trying to do is cross as many off my list as possible. I once had a T-shirt that had all the logos of the 33 courses that were around at the time. Seemed like a lot back then. Wish I still had it. Might be worth something.
Did I mention that I once somehow managed to tie for low net at the GWAA tourney? The crystal trophy will always have a prominent spot in our house. It’s all about the memories. And so many of mine have been made in Myrtle Beach.
We make the 10-hour drive, since we’re staying for at least a week. But I’ve flown in often, and the airport has recently undergone a renovation to make it even more convenient.
Either way, you have no excuse. Get there. Enjoy. And leave your ice scraper at home. About time.